A house fire near 39th Street and Flora Avenue sent two people — the homeowner and a firefighter — to the hospital Monday afternoon.
The bulk of the damage took place on the second floor of the KCMO home. Neighbor Gerald Williams caught it all on his smartphone.
“I seen a blazing fire coming out of the top of the roof,” Williams said. “I saw a lot of smoke.”
Williams reacted almost immediately. Three generations lived in the house on Flora Avenue. Williams tried to help at least one of those generations — the two-year-old granddaughter.
“I got her from her mother,” he said. “I saw her. She was breaking down in tears, so I went over, got her and brought her over here with me. I seen the grandmother sitting on the steps, looking like she was gasping for air.”
The woman was taken to the hospital along with a firefighter who fell off the rooftop while trying to stop the flames from spreading. Williams also captured that on video. You can watch that dramatic moment in the video player above.
Thankfully, both the woman and the firefighter are expected to be okay.
Firefighters say they are preparing for the cold season — what they sometimes refer to as their busy season.
“When it starts getting cold outside, we get into our ‘fire season’ if you will,” Battalion Chief James Garrett said. “We start getting a lot more fires — especially this time of year. People do some unconventional things to stay warm.”
Investigators have not yet determined what caused the fire, but it certainly has Williams wondering about winter — and fire.
“I didn’t think a fire could do that much damage; I ain’t never seen one in action, but I see it now,” he said.
The Kansas City Fire Department says the average cost of fighting a house fire varies, but it gave some rough estimates.
Roughly 30 firefighters respond to every working house fire, which is when heavy smoke or flames are showing. The average salary for a firefighter is $25 an hour. That makes the cost more than $2,500 in labor alone.
Roughly five or six engines respond to every working house fire and will idle for hours, burning diesel fuel. Additionally, there is the added expense of water to fight the fire. If an ambulance is involved, each house fire can add up to close to $4,000.
And the busy season is just beginning.